When the first strains of "Sweet Caroline" began to build during the third inning Tuesday night, the scattered crowd at Yankee Stadium seemed a bit disoriented at first. Many were probably unaware that team executives, as part of that evening's tribute to the mourning city of Boston, had decided to play the Fenway Park eighth-inning singalong anthem.
For those of us that have heard the Neil Diamond phenomenon at Fenway, it did feel a bit surreal. In Boston, it's grown into a tradition that's as much of the ballpark experience there as Fenway franks and the Monster seats. So when it piped through the speakers in the Bronx, the song caused sort of a double-take, like your eyes and ears were in different zip codes.
For at least one Yankee, the moment transported him back to a different place and time. And after the tragic events of Monday's marathon bombing, that was a good thing.
"It gave me chills," said Kevin Youkilis, who spent nine years with the Red Sox. "It was emotional for me to hear that."
Youkilis said that it was nice to set aside the rivalry for a night, to show the city of Boston -- with the help of baseball -- that New York was thinking of its hurting neighbor. There also was a moment of silence before the game, and the Stadium's electronic marquees had the two team's iconic logos -- the interlocking NY and script B -- beside each other with the words, "United We Stand."
The playing of "Sweet Caroline," however, was a special tribute. Even if it took a little while for the fans to catch on -- the crowd mustered a few boisterous "oh-oh-ohs" before the song abruptly faded -- it was a nice gesture.
Here's the video from the YES broadcast of the game, followed by a compilation of similar scenes around MLB on Tuesday night.
(Newsday's app users can watch the video at http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=26326395&topic_id=44973348&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_26326395&v=3)